Parliament, "(You're A Fish And I'm A) Water Sign"
While I always prefer the more upbeat stuff from Parliament, their ballads were also often great, certainly during their peak period. This comes from the last great Parliament record (Motor Booty Affair), but not the last great record from the Parliament/Funkadelic collective.
Black Eyed Peas, "BEP Empire"
Before the Black Eyed Peas became massive pop music successes, before they were cranking out deeply irritating hits, before they entered the collective consciousness as THE BLACK EYED PEAS, they were an underground hip-hop act that put out a couple of decent albums. There's a little Black Star here, which is of course welcome. So, what happened? Well, one major thing you'll notice about those first two records is that one familiar member of the band isn't there. Fergie joined on the third record, and, well, only the first two albums are worth anything.
Al Green, "All I Need"
Al Green's peak run is unimpeachable, but outside of those key records, he's pretty uneven. Especially as he concentrated more on the gospel stuff, his stuff was a little iffy. It was thus a surprise when 2008 brought Lay It Down, a soul record that can proudly sit next to those old classic records, if maybe just a tick behind. The production from ?uestlove here undoubtedly helped, but it's also just a strong batch of songs.
Carla Thomas, "Sugar"
Hell yeah, soul music! A later Stax single here, from the great Stax veteran Carla Thomas. Pretty good companion for that previous song!
Johnny Too Bad and the Strikeouts, "Wait 'Til Later"
Oh god, listen to the sneer in those vocals? Why? Johnny, why?